April 19, 2008

The Best and the Worst

The best and the worst new museums of 2007 according to Martin Filler. He gives high marks to SANAA's New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City and low marks to Coop Himmelb(l)au's Akron Art Museum addition.

April 15, 2008

Failed Icons

Witold Rybczynski's slideshow about "Failed Icons" on Slate last year offers words of caution for anyone seeking to create an architectural icon:
According to Charles Jencks, the author of Iconic Building, . . . iconic buildings [are a] delicate balancing act between what he calls explicit signs and implicit symbols, that is, between an unusual, memorable form and the images it conjures up. He emphasizes that in an increasingly heterogeneous world, multiple and sometimes even enigmatic meanings are precisely what turn a building into a popular icon.

What Jencks does not say, in his altogether too polite book, is that this balancing act is extremely rare—for every successful icon there are scores of failures.

Well worth a quick read.

April 7, 2008

Jean Nouvel wins the Prizker

I am late to this one, but the French architect Jean Nouvel has been named this year's Pritzker Prize winner, an honor that is frequently equated to the Nobel Prize for architecture.

From the press release: "For over 30 years Jean Nouvel has pushed architecture’s discourse and praxis to new limits. His inquisitive and agile mind propels him to take risks in each of his projects, which, regardless of varying degrees of success, have greatly expanded the vocabulary of contemporary architecture."

I have not been here yet, but his best known museum project is the controversial Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. Here is the Times on it.

Witold Rybczynski on Edward Hopper

Interesting slideshow by Witold Rybczynski about Edward Hopper and architecture. The exhibit is currently on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.